Imran’s cipher case trial to be held at Adiala Jail

Judge says it will be an open court where family members of accused can attend proceedings

Our Correspondent November 28, 2023


Authorities at the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, on Tuesday failed to produce Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the Federal Judicial Complex’s special court conducting the cipher case trial, citing security reasons.

Special Court Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain, after hearing heated arguments from both sides, ordered further proceedings in the case inside the jail but declared that it would be an open trial, which would be attended by the general public, including the family members of the accused.

The special court, established under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), had ordered the authorities on Nov 23 to produce Imran and Qureshi in the court for Tuesday’s hearing, directing the jail authorities to make the necessary arrangements in this regard.

However, a report was submitted in the court by the Adiala Jail superintendent, saying that based on information from the Islamabad police, Special Branch and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the life of the PTI chairman could be in serious danger.

In his written order, the judge said that the court could not ignore the threats to Imran’s life. The judge also pointed to an incident of in which the PTI workers stormed the Federal Judicial Complex in the past.
He added that the hearing in the Federal Judicial Complex was neither safe for Imran nor for other people.

He ordered that the trial of Imran would go on at the Adiala Jail, where Qureshi was also incarcerated.
He added that the trial inside the jail premises would be an open trial and the lawyers and five family members of each of the accused would be allowed to watch the proceedings.

The judge said that the general public and those who were wishing to attend the hearing should be permitted to sit during the trial proceedings, but added that they would be permitted to the courtroom based on the jail rules and manual and the courtroom’s capacity.

Read: IHC declares jail trial in cypher case illegal

The cipher case pertained to a document that Imran, then the prime minister, waved at a public rally in Islamabad in March last year, claiming that it was the evidence of a foreign conspiracy to remove him from the government through the then opposition’s no-confidence motion.

This year, Imran was booked under the OSA for revealing state secrets and on other charges along with Qureshi, the foreign minister during the PTI government.

Initially, the trial was held inside the Adiala Jail but last week, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared the proceedings by then null and void.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Barrister Salman Safdar, Barrister Taimur, Ali Bukhari and others as well as FIA prosecutors Shah Khawar and Zulfikar Abbas Naqvi appeared in the court. The three sisters of the PTI chairman and the daughter of Qureshi were also present. The next hearing will be held on Dec 1.

During the hearing, Aleema Khan addressed the judge, stating that the court had ordered for allowing Imran to speak with his sons, but the jail authorities were not complying with the order on the pretext that under the Jail Manual, they could not permit overseas call.

Lawyer Shiraz Ranjha said the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the jail could be summoned and examined what was written in them.

Lawyer Ali Bukhari added that the charges of the overseas calls could be paid.

Judge Zulqarnain summoned the Adiala Jail superintendent in the matter.


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